Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    by Jim Moriarty
  • Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    by Kevin Cook
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    by Richard Gillis
  • The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event โ€“ A Complete History
    The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event โ€“ A Complete History
    by Martin Davis
  • A Life Well Played: My Stories
    A Life Well Played: My Stories
    by Arnold Palmer

I've been playing the game so long that my handicap is in Roman numerals.
BOB HOPE


   

Tuesday
Jan172017

Club Corp Headed For Breakup?

Greg Roumeliotis and Lauren Hirsch of Reuters report that investors are pushing for ClubCorp to be broken up and that the company has formed a committee to carry out a review.

They write:

It is a serial acquirer in the golf course industry, buying 12 new clubs in 2015 and 2016. It looks to buy locally-owned golf courses and then refurbish them by adding or improving amenities such as up-scale dining and event rooms.

Shareholder FrontFour Capital Group LLC in September published a letter highlighting ClubCorp's low trading multiple as compared with leisure industry peers such Six Flags Entertainment Corp (SIX.N). It questioned some of its business decisions such as ClubCorp's model to pour money into refurbishing its golf course acquisitions.

"It is obvious to us that ClubCorp's reinvention capital expenditures are transformative in nature and are in no shape or form 'maintenance,'" the letter wrote.

How dare they try to transform their properties for a new generation!

Private equity firm KSL Capital bought ClubCorp for $1.8 billion in October 2006 before taking it public in 2013. The company operates more than 200 properties but it saddled with major debt issues.

Monday
Jan162017

More On Justin Thomas' Ascension, Stunning Sony Stats

Now that Justin Thomas has won both Hawaii events and moved into the world top ten, his backstory is probably a lot more interesting to most.

Brian Wacker does a nice job recapping how Thomas got to this point and highlighting the role of his golf instructor dad Mike.

The older Thomas said he often asked Justin if he wanted to go to the swimming pool or to play basketball. He was not interested.

“When he was 7 or 8 years old, he’d call me on his way home from a tournament and say, ‘I’ll be home by 7:30, do you want to play nine holes?’ ” Mike Thomas said. “We’d eat dinner at 9 or 9:30 every night. Selfishly, it allowed me to play more golf.”

The older Thomas taught his son the fundamentals, but he was cautious about pushing him too hard. Most of their lessons would last 10 or 15 minutes, in part because Mike Thomas had a busy schedule teaching and competing, but also because he did not want to be overbearing.

“I’ve seen it done wrong so many times,” Mike Thomas said. “It was more important that we were friends than he was a good player.”

The crack number-crunchers at ShotLink provided these stats from the Sony Open, which show a driving and putting performance that easily explains how the new PGA Tour scoring record occurred.

The divide between Thomas and his next closest competitor in approach distances is a real eye-opener.

Monday
Jan162017

Careerbuilder: Mickelson On Creating An Identity

Larry Bohannan talks to Phil Mickelson in advance of his new role as "ambassador" to the Careerbuilder Challenge, formerly known as, well, The Hope.

Mickelson says it's a three-year plan to build the tournament into a more stable and significant event.

"The idea is to create an identity. Our identity is a chance for players to build a foundation for the rest of the year. We want to get a few top players in the field as the year starts.”

As the desert tournament evolved in the 1960s and 1970s, it always had top-name pros from Arnold Palmer to Jack Nicklaus to Gary Player to Johnny Miller to Mickelson himself. Getting at least a few names like that back in the field could help push the CareerBuilder to bigger heights, Mickelson said, and maybe even bring back a little of what the tournament was decades ago.

“If we get a few top players, get some top amateurs and in the future some top celebrities out to the tournament, the tournament will be something fans want to come to,” he said.

It's interesting to see that Mickelson has singled out "top celebrities" given that Commissioner Finchem shifted the event away from celebs just as he did with the Wednesday pro-am here in Los Angeles. Whether Moonbeam was squeeze more revenue out of paying customers over spectator draws, or just a general fan of watching briefcases play golf instead of celebs, I don't know.

Either way, tip of the cap to whoever secured Fitz and The Tantrums for the first Careerbuilder Challenge concert. Can't wait to see the fans free let go of their walkers to dance to The Walker!

Monday
Jan162017

Rory's HSBC WD Will Seriously Alter Pre-Masters Plans

Talk about a kickabout to Rory McIlroy's pre-Masters preparation plan.

While his beloved downtime activity of gym time is something Rory McIlroy credits for his ascension, his rib stress fracture was blamed on excessive club testing over the holidays. However, the gym work will be questioned after the almost-World-No.-1-again has WD'd from the HSBC Championship and perhaps other pre-Masters events.

Brian Keogh writes at the Irish Golf Desk:

The Northern Irishman underwent extensive clinical examinations on Monday after picking up the injury in South Africa last week and will now commence rehabilitation and return to golf when he is fully recovered from the stress fracture.

He said: “It’s bitterly disappointing to have to withdraw from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. I think everyone knows how much I love playing this tournament, which is one of the best on the European Tour thanks to the incredible support of HSBC and the Abu Dhabi Sports Council."

Last year, McIlroy discussed the injury-prevention intentions of his workout regimen, which was detailed here by Brian Wacker at PGATour.com, who sat in on the Men's Health cover shoot.

"I think from the start of 2011, the direct correlation between leading a healthier lifestyle and my performance on the course was the same.

"Obviously I'm trying to be strong, but the whole reason I started this is because I was injured."

Monday
Jan162017

Boston Globe Profile Of New Commish Jay Monahan

Jim McCabe profiles Jay Monahan for the Boston Globe and gives fans a little insight into his personality and background in both sports and charity work.

It's well worth your time, but two parts I wanted to document for posterity, starting with a rare admission of weakness from Monahan's predecessor.

Marveled Finchem one day about Monahan, who lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., with his wife, Susan, and daughters Sophie, 13, and Phoebe, 10: “He’s from Boston, and he’s Irish. Making a relationship is a slam dunk for him. Makes me jealous.”

There was also this from Seth Waugh and on his work for Fenway Sports Management.

A trail of success at Arnold Advertising, Woolf Associates, EMC, as tournament director of the DBC, at FSM, and eight years in training at the PGA Tour bodes well for Monahan as PGA Tour commissioner.

“I’m excited for him,” said Faxon. “I’m excited for the Tour.”

“It will look like a calmer and gentler Tour, but he does have a steel backbone,” said Waugh. “He’s not afraid to say no, but he tries to say yes.”

Monahan counts MLB commissioner Rob Manfred as a friend, and it’s not forgotten by Red Sox ownership that it was Monahan who spearheaded improvements to Fenway Park by creating the EMC Club and State Street Pavilion.

“There was a trust factor, so much appreciation and respect [at FSM],” said Monahan.

Monday
Jan162017

Obama And Woodmont: Maybe Not The Backlash Suggested

Much was made of the New York Post story on President Barack Obama facing member-backlash should he try to join the mostly-Jewish Woodmont Country Club over his Israel policies, but a few readers who know the club wrote to say they were struggling to see such a widespread membership stance against the president.

Thanks to reader Joe, who sent in this Washington Post story by Bill Turque suggesting hostilities may be the work of just a few members, while others sound more eager to welcome the soon-to-be-former president.

Simon Atlas, a former chair of the club’s admissions committee, said he would be “honored” to have Obama as a member. He added that the club had never applied a political test for acceptance.

“A person’s political affiliation was never a consideration,” said Atlas, former treasurer of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee. “We looked at [a person’s] philanthropy, at standing in the community, at reputation. These other things never came up.”

Obama only intends to live in the Washington D.C. area for two years while his youngest daughter finishes high school. His love of the game figures to make his golf preferences in D.C., Chicago and elsewhere (greater Palm Springs?) of great interest.

The White House life and post-presidency talk, and an entire portion of mulligan golf talk, were part of his final 60 Minutes interview with golfer Steve Kroft.

Sunday
Jan152017

David Owen On Lessons Learned Playing Golf With Trump 

Longtime New Yorker staff writer and former Golf Digest contributor David Owen writes about his time playing golf with Donald Trump long before the developer became president-elect.

Given that only one Trump course made the recent Golf Digest top 200 courses (no Bedminster or Doral!), this might explain why panelists do not rate his courses highly:

Golf publications periodically rate golf courses—the hundred best in the world, the hundred best in the country, the dozen best in each state—and Trump’s relationship with such ratings is complex. He complained to me that golf publications never rank his courses high enough, because the people who do the rating hold a grudge against him, but he also said that he never allows raters to play his courses, because they would just get in the way of the members. “I think we’d have a revolt with our membership,” he explained. “Because, unlike other clubs, every one of my membership lists is perfect. And when you start adding hundreds of raters who want to play golf . . .” Nevertheless, when someone from a golf publication does write something positive, after somehow having managed to slip past the perimeter, Trump quotes it endlessly (and, inevitably, magnifies it).

Owen also shares some of the feedback he got from an "upset" Trump after his story appeared.

He called the editor of Golf Digest to complain, and then he called me, on my cell phone. I was in the city on a reporting assignment unrelated to golf, and had the surreal experience of being chewed out by a future President of the United States while standing among the gravestones in the burial ground next to Trinity Church. He wasn’t upset that one of the article’s illustrations had been of a golf ball wearing a turf toupee that looked a lot like his deeply mysterious hair, or that I’d mentioned his asking two little girls at Mar-a-Lago if they wanted to be supermodels when they grew up, or that I’d described nearly tipping him five dollars after momentarily mistaking him for his club’s parking-lot attendant, or that I’d written that he’d introduced one of his club’s members to me not by name but as “the richest guy in Germany.” He was upset that I hadn’t written that he’d shot 71—a very good golf score, one stroke under par.

I hadn’t written that because he hadn’t shot 71. We hadn’t been playing for score, and we had given each other putts and taken other friendly liberties—as golfers inevitably do when they’re just fooling around. I said something to that effect in the politest way I could think of, but he wasn’t mollified. He was also angry that I’d described his wedge game as “poor.” (On several occasions, he’d had trouble with shots inside a hundred yards, both during our round and on the practice range beforehand.) I reminded him that I had mainly written very flattering things about his golf game, and that I’d mentioned his victories in three club championships and had quoted praise from his caddie and his pro (“You have a very nice bicycle, Donald, even if it’s not as nice as your friend’s”). But none of that made any difference. He wanted the number, and the fact that I hadn’t published the number proved that I was just like all the other biased reporters, who, because we’re all part of the anti-Trump media conspiracy, never give him as much credit as he deserves for being awesome. Such is his now familiar habit of acting like a sore loser even when he’s won.

Sunday
Jan152017

Justin Thomas Breaks PGA Tour 72-Hole Scoring Record

It's one of the biggies not just in golf, but in all of sports and Justin Thomas now holds the PGA Tour's lowest 72-hole scoring record.

Doug Ferguson on Thomas's Sony Open victory that included a 59 and a four day total of, gulp, 253.

Thomas capped off his wonderful week at Waialae that began with a 59 with his second straight victory. He two-putted birdie from 60 feet on the par-5 18th and closed with a 5-under 65 to set the record at 253.
Tommy Armour III shot 254 at the 2003 Texas Open.

"It's been an unbelievable week. Unforgettable," Thomas said before going to sign his historic card.

The final round highlights, in case you were watching something else...

Sunday
Jan152017

Video: Allstar Sports Bar's Snooker Trick Shot

I love the winter blues! So much time to plan!

Nice merging of putting and pool from the Allstar Sports Bar in Bristol, England. Nice speed-up job by the Golf Gods, and great camera work by someone.

Sunday
Jan152017

PGA Tour Tweet Says Amateur Golf Hopeless, Bowditch Pounces

I know the millennials are poorer than their parents and that cute Tweets are a source of important distraction from reality.

Also, as part of its efforts to get younger and clickier, the PGA Tour Twitter account has gone all in on relentless filling up your feed no matter how banal the topic. Sometimes, they share helpful highlights and news of a #59watch, but, sometimes, the misfires that have to be called out by their own adult members.

Like Steven Bowditch in glorious fashion. On a television image of a dog surfing that needed no context.

The Tweet in question now sleeps with Luca Brazi, but mercifully, screen grabs are our friends:

Sunday
Jan152017

Storm Wins On Patrick Reed Lifeline; Rory To Have MRI

The European Tour's 2017 kicked off in wild fashion with 38-year-old Graeme Storm edging Rory McIlroy in a three-hole playoff.

As James Corrigan writes for the Telegraph, Storm thought he'd lost his card in October after a final hole bogey and by just €100, only to receive a lifeline from Patrick Reed. Now Storm's holding the SA Open trophy and all of the perks that come with winning.

But then the American Patrick Reed failed to fulfill the minimum number of events when skipping the Final Series and so Storm was handed a reprieve. And there he was, at the Glendower Country Club near Johannesburg, captilasing on his second chance in one of the most gutsy scenarios imaginable.

To win just the second title of his career – following up his French Open a decade later - and in the process ensure he retains his Tour playing privileges for at least two years was the stuff of fantasy. But to do so when going head-to-head with McIlroy, the world No 2 and winner of four majors, was, in his words, “totally unbelievable”.

The news was tempered by Rory McIlroy's upper back issues. With a chance to retake the World No. 1 spot in Abu Dhabi this week, he's headed for an MRI machine in Dubai.

“It was manageable this week with tape and a few pill, but it’s not 100 per cent.

"Part of me really wants to make this week because there is so much to play for with world No 1 on the line. But at the same time there is so much to play for over the whole season and I don’t want to jeopardise long-term goals for short-term gain. Hopefully, I’ll be good to go.”

Despite the pain, McIlroy uncorked some stunning tee shots, including a 392-yarder to open the week. The European Tour compiled this collection of tee balls of McIlroy and his new Epic driver:

 

 

All of the three-hole playoff shots in under five minutes, courtesy of the European Tour:

 

 

Friday
Jan132017

Here We Go Again: Tokyo Governor Calls On 2020 Olympic Golf Venue To Admit Women

Amlan Chakraborty of Reuters says Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike has asked Kasumigaseki Country Club to admit women as full members.

"I feel very uncomfortable about women not being able to become a regular member in this era," Koike told reporters on Friday.

And for good measure, the club that will host the 2020 Olympic golf, bars women on Sundays. Unreal.

You really have to wonder how this slipped through the Tokyo 2020 vetting process for the course.

Thursday
Jan122017

Video: Rickie Tests A Persimmon Driver On Trackman

Rickie Fowler tested out a persimmon driver on Trackman and instructor Claude Harmon III captured it. What do you think of the numbers Trackman enthusiasts?

 

 

Thursday
Jan122017

Roundup: Justin Thomas Shoots 59 At Waialae

There aren't many highlights due to the early nature of the round, here's PGATour.com's package. And GolfChannel.com's recap with Steve Sands and Frank Nobilo.

Doug Ferguson notes this in writing about Justin Thomas's opening-round 59 at the Sony Open.

He was five shots better than anyone in the morning, but his lead was only three shots by the end of the day. Hudson Swafford shot a 62 in the afternoon. Swafford made a birdie on his 12th hole, when his caddie told him, "We've got to make seven birdies on the last six holes to catch Justin."

The average score was 68.26.

Thomas put the round into great perspective, writes GolfDigest.com's Dave Shedloski:

His hard-fought victory over Hideki Matsuyama last week was highly satisfying. But to etch your name in the history books with one magical round has a certain cache and sparkle to it.

“I would say, on paper, it would be today,” Thomas said when he was asked if his win at Kapalua or his 59 at Waialae was more special. “History wise … I have a chance to win a golf tournament every week. I don’t have many chances to shoot 59.”

Rex Hoggard on the last hole decision Thomas made that set up an eagle putt.

Thomas’ drive found the bunker at the par-5 ninth hole. “I wanted to punch something,” he said. He appeared destined for a 10-under round on the par-70 layout, but Berger, who was in the same bunker off the tee, showed him the way.

It’s what friends do.

“It was sitting really good to where it felt like I could get a 6-iron or 7-iron on it and just get it short of the green. And then I hear [Berger’s] caddie say 4-iron for them,” Thomas said. “I was like, man, can I hit it on the green? I'm like, I guess I can hit it on the green, I don't know.”

Thomas said he “flushed” a 5-iron that cleared the lip of the bunker, sailed through the warm air and settled 15 feet left of the pin. He made the putt - of course he did, what else would one expect from a player who has won twice and finished in the top 5 in four of his last five starts?

Here is that last hole with Thomas watching:

 

Speaking of the eagle, Thomas became the first 59 or less shooter to have two in one round. Great stuff from the ShotLink guys comparing the 59s and Furyk's 58. Click to enlarge:

Thursday
Jan122017

IGF "Committed" To Rio Golf Courses Legacy

The Latin America Amateur Championship has announced a South America return in 2018, reports Nick Menta. The event will head to Prince of Wales Country Club in Santiago, Chile. That South American return would have been a great chance to take the LAAC to the Rio Olympic course, but the troubled state of affairs probably ruled out Gil Hanse's design.

Menta says International Golf Federation officials discussed the course and remain committed to its survival on the same day a key park that hosted several Olympic venues closed. This from the USGA's Mike Davis:

"You know, that golf course is transitioning right now, going from the Rio 2016 organizing committee to the Brazilian Golf Confederation, and so there’s some questions about what is going on right now. But I will tell you that the IGF stands committed to help the legacy of that golf course continue. And I think that one day we would love to see this championship held at a famed venue like that."

After one round, 17-year-old Julian Perico of Peru leads Guatemala's Alejandro Villavicencio by one.

Thursday
Jan122017

Thomas's 59 Highlights PGA Tour's Digital Conundrum

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan highlighted digital as a big part of his focus and has expressed a desire for the PGA Tour to obtain ownership or partial ownership of the channel showing his tour product.

This has prompted the PGA Tour to create PGA Tour Live to show pre-Golf Channel coverage and to establish another option for showing golf, with the long term goal of possibly becoming home to Thursday and Friday coverage once the current Golf Channel deal expires (2021).

But when Justin Thomas teed off early and posted a Sony Open 59 Thursday, he exposed several weaknesses in the PGA Tour approach to digital, starting with PGA Tour Live sitting out the two Hawaii events, presumably due to cost. This isn't surprising given the expense of doing golf in Hawaii and the tour's propensity for saving a buck, as evidenced by PGA Tour-managed events ending spectator access to practice round days.

Golf Channel, set to start Sony coverage at 6 pm ET, did pick up the last two holes of Thomas's 59 more than one hour before scheduled sign-on time. Yet the PGA Tour directed fans to Facebook Live where the 8th 59 in tour history was seen through the cell phone camera of PGATour.com's Ben Everill (who, btw, did an excellent job analyzing the scene).

However, this is not exactly the most scintillating way to see a 59:

Would the PGA Tour's new Twitter streaming deal have helped? Nope. It's merely a way to preview PGA Tour Live coverage in the weeks PGA Tour Live is covering golf.

In the case of Thomas's 59, had the PGA Tour linked to Golf Channel's Golf Live Extra, fans would have been asked to log in via their cable provider. Sorry cord cutters!

Yet given the lack of PGA Tour Live presence this week, the PGA Tour should have worked out something to provide fans with a better view. 

According to the PGA Tour's Ty Votaw, the issue was contractual, requiring all viewing to go through Golf Channel's Golf Live Extra. Yet the tour directed fans to a PGATour.com reporter's cell phone video at Facebook Live, with no social link for Golf Channel cable viewers. By having PGA Tour social accounts not promote the Golf Channel's online streaming of the last two holes, it's been made clear the partners are not working together, even in a non-PGA Tour Live week.

This will not be the last time fans are caught in the middle of leveraging tension between the tour and Golf Channel.

Thursday
Jan122017

PGA CEO On May Date: "We're in the process of that analysis"

Not surprisingly PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua gave no indication to ESPN.com's Jason Sobel of where things stand on a May-move for the PGA Championship.

From the story:

"We're in the process of that analysis. The good news for us is that we can stay where we are -- we love that August date -- or we can move it occasionally, or we can move it permanently. It's all part of a process we're going through."

It's a process! So is this answer:

"We have had a series of very good discussions with Jay and the tour about how that schedule could be optimized," Bevacqua continued. "Solely looking at it thru the prism of the PGA of America, we need to do what's in the best interests of the PGA Championship, but we absolutely have to consider what's in the overall best interest of the golf schedule. There are pros and cons to keeping it where it is and moving it."

John Feinstein and I debated the move this week on Golf Central in light of PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan's more cautious comments on the topic. Feinstein says it's a done deal, I still struggle to see the PGA of America saying goodbye to some longtime and successful venues for a Mother's Day final round date instead of August.

Thursday
Jan122017

Golf Digest Looks To Double Size Of Course Rating Panel By '20

Golf Digest Editor In Chief Jerry Tarde reveals in his February, 2017 column that the America's 100 Greatest Courses panel is looking to double by 2020 from its current size of 954 raters.

Tarde writes:

Dean Knuth, known as the Pope of Slope for his decades of work on the USGA's handicapping system and the chief statistician for Golf Digest's course rankings, advises us that we need to raise our minimum qualifying number of evaluations from 45 to at least 70 to make the 100 Greatest statistically above reproach. To reach that goal, we're dedicating our efforts to double the size of the panel by 2020.

Given that many courses will tell you they're tiring of the phone ringing from Golf Digest, Golfweek and Golf Magazine requests, this certainly won't cut down on the volume of requests!

The requirements?

We'll tell you upfront: It's a thankless though ultimately rewarding activity.

It's not cheap. Panelists pay a membership fee and are expected to cover their travel and lodging and arrange their tee times with the assistance of a great many clubs who are eager to have Golf Digest review their courses. We allow clubs to offer panelists complimentary green fees, but only that. Panelists are continually lectured by Senior Editor Ron Whitten on the seven criteria of judgment and reminded by Associate Editor Steve Hennessey to get their ballots in on time. Every score is scrutinized by Knuth for outliers, and every two years panelists get a letter grade on how they are doing.

There's also a code of conduct.

"Panelists are welcomed into a lot of great private courses," Whitten says, "but if they accept so much as a lunch or a logoed shirt, they'll get booted off the panel."

Whitten revealed on the Golf Digest podcast that the fee to become a panelist is $1000, with a $250 annual dues payment also required.

Besides the cash, Tarde writes that the Handicap Index requirement will remain.

If you'd like to be part of this exclusive club, hold a Handicap Index of 5.0 or less, and have enough time to play and evaluate at least two dozen courses a year, or know of a player who fits this description, contact us at 100GreatestPanel@golfdigest.com, and we'll start the process for membership. (The same panel also votes on our World's 100 Greatest, but a less-rigorous ballot is used because of the geography covered.)

The expansion news hits as the latest ranking received its bienniel dose of criticism for focusing on experience, conditioning and course difficulty over design. GolfClubAtlas.com's Ran Morrissett wrote:

A great playing experience, a great clubhouse and great architecture sometimes go hand in hand - but frequently don't.  It is a disservice to the game when a prominent magazine masquerades a list of large, expensive clubhouses under the banner of great courses.

Andy Johnson at The Fried Egg pointed out that 37.5% of the Golf Digest criteria has little to do with architectural character. Unless you think resistance to scoring is something to be celebrated.

Thursday
Jan122017

Henrik: We Don't Need To Play Any Slower

His tone was reserved in part because Henrik Stenson has been on vacation and did not hear of Jason Day's 2017 resolution to play slower.

Now, Henrik is not a fast player when his game is off. When he's on, he plays at a very nice clip. But in talking with Charlie Rymer and Robert Damon on Morning Drive, Stenson, once over the surprise of hearing about Day's remarks, said the pros do not need to play slower. He also opens up about about his driver yip battles in the Inside The Locker Room segment.

Stenson also revealed to Matt Ginella that he's going into the design business and that his favorites courses are Emirates Golf Club and TPC Sawgrass.

Thursday
Jan122017

USGA, Fox Sports And Rules Controversy-Induced Tension

Ron Sirak has followed up his Golf Digest coverage of Fox's USGA television contract with a new feature suggesting that two years into the $1.2 billion deal, there are "tensions" between the two sides.

The story is largely a business piece looking at a deal that is hemorrhaging money and not giving the USGA as much exposure as it sought. I'll do a post on the business side later, but for now the initial fascination lies in the suggestion that some of this tension was induced by Fox's handling of 2016's high-profile rules infractions.

You may recall that at the time, many of us noted that Fox excelled in the eyes of viewers by covering the Dustin Johnson (and later Anna Nordqvist) situations in very strong fashion. There was shrewd analysis, acknowledgement of player outrage and the overall madness of the situations.

But we've also known that the USGA Executive Committee types that sought the Fox partnership thought they were buying a partner who would coddle, nurture, massage and whitewash. Thankfully for viewers, that wasn't the case. Any questions about Fox's impartiality were tossed aside and the network came out of 2016 with enhanced credibility for having covered news as news.

The USGA should be happy that their partner was able to gain that credibility with viewers--a huge question mark raised by the original deal--and undoubtedly many within the organization felt this was positive. But when your Executive Committee has been overrun by a steady stream of Walter Driver-verified groupthinkers who fear the wrath of Sea Island, any impartiality by your partner amounts to subversive behavior.

Sirak writes:

Further complicating things between the USGA and Fox were the rules controversies. At Oakmont, Fox announcers were extremely critical of how the USGA handled what was eventually an after-the-fact penalty called against Johnson. And in the Women's Open at CordeValle, Fox aired a rules infraction by Anna Nordqvist in her playoff with Brittany Lang before USGA officials had a chance to examine the video, which, sources tell Golf Digest, angered some USGA insiders.

"Both organizations realize we could've provided more complete information in a more timely manner and explained our processes better," Mike Davis, executive director and CEO of the USGA, told Golf Digest. "In both cases, the USGA put a premium on gathering all the facts to make an informed decision for the competition first, and then relaying that information accurately to those who were watching. We have since enhanced those processes and will continue to improve them, so that everyone reporting, including Fox, can maintain journalistic integrity with the best expertise and knowledge we can offer."

Now that 18-2 will be softened with a Local Rule, the USGA and Fox should not have any issues. Except that we know the Nordqvist situation was different and raised by Fox almost immediately. Given that some of the confusion last year in both situations was caused by not having a more refined system for a USGA rules official to monitor the broadcast and rule on an infraction, television rightly went with analysis of whether a violation took place, leaving the USGA running behind.

As with Augusta National and the PGA Tour, will the USGA address this going forward? Otherwise, the possibility exists for more tension and embarrassment.